Galway Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern for the future of the Apple data centre planned for Athenry.
The chamber made the statement following reports this week that Apple is now in the process of building a second data centre in Denmark.
The first data centre planned by Apple in Denmark is expected to be operational later this year but the project in Athenry, announced on the same day in 2015, has yet to start.
The proposed €850 million data centre for Athenry is currently under judicial review on environmental grounds, with the High Court due to report on it on Thursday 27 July.
BESET WITH DELAYS
“We must now be concerned for the future of the data centre at Athenry considering the advanced situation in Denmark,” President of the Galway Chamber of Commerce, Maurice O’Gorman, said this week, adding the project in Athenry has been beset with delays throughout the planning process.
“This concern includes the loss of construction jobs, full time jobs, support jobs, ancillary industries and the potential for future data centres opting to locate here,” he added.
Mr O’Gorman said that the Chamber fully supported Apple in their plans for a data centre in Athenry and had made a detailed submission to An Bord Pleanála in favour of Apple’s plans for the site.
“We believed that the site as selected by Apple is suitable and that the construction of the data centre is of benefit to the locality and the region,” said Mr O’Gorman.
BOOST TO ECONOMY
Galway Chamber also made a presentation at An Bord Pleanála’s Oral Hearing in favour of the plans.
“Just a year ago we welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the development of the Apple Data Centre in Athenry.
“At the time we said that this would be a great boost to the local economy, resulting in 300 jobs over multiple phases of construction and ongoing employment in the operation of the centre with 150 technical staff to be employed on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Galway Chamber believes that the decision by Apple to choose Galway and Athenry for this facility is a clear indication to others that this is a good place to do business, “strengthening our ICT cluster and boding very well for the future”, added Mr O’Gorman.
Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, however stated this week that Apple’s development in Denmark will not have an impact on the Athenry plan.
“What Apple is doing here is planning to scale up its data storage globally as it needs to do like every other tech company. I think the reason it is planning a second one in Denmark is because of that country’s incredible track record in wind generation.”
He explained that Denmark produces 42 per cent of its electricity from wind energy.
“Apple have admitted that they are going to invest in wind renewable energy here in Ireland to be able to power the centre in Athenry solely from renewables.
“They are going to Denmark because that investment in wind is already being made by the state. Denmark are experts at this. If you are looking to scale up your data storage globally and you are honouring a commitment made almost 10 years ago to power all data centres through renewable energy, then Denmark is an obvious choice.”
He acknowledged the growing concerns regarding the Athenry project. “People are concerned and they have been concerned for a considerable period of time now. With the planning process having gone on for so long and now this, it certainly doesn’t reduce their concerns,” he said.
“As of now, there is no change to the plan in developing the data centre in Athenry but that is assuming we get a positive result on the 27 July.”